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Party Hard 2 Indie Game Review

Three years ago I took a look at the original Party Hard. While not for everyone, Party Hard was a game that really surprised me. Basically the premise of the game was that you played as a serial killer who was fed up with parties keeping him up at night. In the game you played as the serial killer and had to find a way to kill all of the party goers without being killed yourself or getting caught by the police. The game played like a stealth game mixed with a strategy game. What made the original Party Hard work was that all of these mechanics worked really well together to create an enjoyable and unique experience. Having enjoyed the original game I was excited to try out Party Hard 2. Party Hard 2 may share a lot in common with the original game, but it does what a sequel should by adding polish and expanding on what worked to create a game superior to the original.

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Pinokl Games and tinyBuild for the review copy of Party Hard 2 used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.

For those of you who have read my review for the original game or have played Party Hard, you are already going to be quite familiar with Party Hard 2. Like most sequels, Party Hard 2 shares a lot in common with the original game. Once again you play as a serial killer who goes on a killing spree after he loses his job. Like the original game, most of the game revolves around killing the guests without being spotted. This can be accomplished with your trusty knife or using the various traps scattered around the level.

Like every good sequel, Party Hard 2 shares a lot in common with the original game as the basic gameplay is exactly the same. If you have played the original game, you should already have a good idea of whether you will enjoy the sequel. People who didn’t really care for the original game probably won’t like Party Hard 2 either. If you enjoyed the original game and are craving more levels to play, Party Hard 2 is likely going to be what you are looking for. Before going over the additions to Party Hard 2, I want to quickly go over what I enjoyed from the original game (which also applies to Party Hard 2) for those who didn’t read my review for the first game.

The first standout area of the original Party Hard was the gameplay. The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward. Your goal is to kill all of the party goers. When you find a party guest all alone, you can quickly kill them and hide them before anyone notices that they are gone. The other way to get rid of party goers is to lure them towards the various traps scattered around the level. You can then set off the traps and kill a bunch of party guests at the same time. Make sure you don’t get spotted killing a guest though, or you will be captured by the police. What I really enjoyed about the basic gameplay is that it is an interesting blend of a stealth game mixed with a strategy game. You need to be sneaky while stalking your next target. Finding the best way to dispose of the party guests ends up becoming a sort of puzzle as you figure out the most efficient way of getting rid of everyone.

The other area where the original Party Hard and Party Hard 2 succeeds is the theme. Like I mentioned in the review for the original game, Party Hard is not going to be for everyone. In the game you are playing as a serial killer which is going to turn off some people. Some of the murders can be kind of gruesome, in a cartoony way, and the game also features quite a bit of drug use and other adult content. If the adult theme doesn’t turn you off though, you can have a lot of fun with it. For example the game features a lot of little Easter eggs including guests based on movies/popular culture that attend the parties. It is kind of fun trying to spot the various characters that show up at the party.

The theme shines the most though when things go off the rails. As the party guests’ actions are randomized, things can get crazy quickly. For example the police could be about to arrest you when another party guest randomly starts a fight with them allowing you to get away. Then as the police are leaving the scene, they run over several of the guests. In one level in Party Hard 2 you can call a stripper (all of the stripping is pixelated so there is no actual nudity) in order to distract the guards. One time when I called the stripper, another guest came up behind her and sucker punched her which knocked her out temporarily. Before getting to the job she was hired for, she had to search out the guest that assaulted her and proceeded to beat the guest up. Then she went back to the job she was hired for like nothing even happened. Just watching these random events unfold are some of the most enjoyable parts of the game.

Heading into Party Hard 2 my biggest concern was that the game was just going to be glorified expansion pack for the original game. While I really enjoyed the original game, I didn’t want to just see more of the same. If Party Hard 2 was just a group of new levels, I would have been disappointed. For the most part I was pleasantly surprised by how much Party Hard 2 added to the original game. The basics are exactly the same but Party Hard 2 takes everything that worked in the first game and expanded on it. Most of the additions to the game either add polish to the original game or add a few new mechanics for dealing with the party goers.

I would say that the biggest addition to Party Hard 2 was the addition of items. I don’t remember the original game having any items that you could pick up and use at a later time. If there were items, they didn’t play a large role in the game. The items in Party Hard 2 can actually play a pretty big role in the game. I ended up using the traps more than items, but you are going to have to make use of items in order to succeed in the game. You can hold a total of three items at a time and can select a different item with the quick press of a button. The items for the most part break down into a couple types. The most straightforward are items you can use as weapons against party goers. These include things like Molotov cocktails, grenades, and bear traps. Other objects can be used to get past guards, distract guests and guards, and some objects such as money or drugs can be given to party guests in order to create chaos at the party. There is one final type of object that I am going to discuss later.

Not satisfied with just adding items to the game, Party Hard 2 also adds a crafting system. The system is really straightforward as you just have to press a button when you have two items that can be combined together. This crafting mechanic is mostly used to craft more deadly weapons or more useful items. While this mechanic is not particularly deep, I think it was a nice addition to the game. It gives players options as they can either use the objects separately or combine them together to get a more useful object.

I think the biggest addition the items make to the game is the variety of options they give to the players. In the original game you mostly had to rely on getting party goers alone to pick them off one at a time, or find ways to get them in a group when you set off one of the traps. The addition of items gives you a lot more flexibility in how you choose to get rid of the party goers. This flexibility keeps the game fresh and adds quite a few opportunities for creativity to the game. To further explain I want to share a few examples of what you can do in the game.

One of the items you can pick up in the game is a barrel. The barrels can either hold water, gas, or acid. At first you might wonder what can you do with water as that doesn’t sound that deadly. It turns out that you can pour water out of the barrel to make a path of water. I ended up filling the water barrel several times to create a long path of water from a dance floor to a trap that I was about to set off. I set off the trap, electricity traveled along the path of water and ended up electrocuting 15-20 people at the same time. In a later level I used a similar strategy with gas to connect three vehicles to one another. I set off a trap which blew up the first vehicle. This ignited the gas which made its way to the second vehicle and finally to the third vehicle. This chain reaction of explosions ended up killing quite a few party guests.

Outside of the addition of items, I would say the next biggest addition to the game is the inclusion of actual objectives. In the original game the goal in every level was to kill all of the guests. While that is still the primary goal in Party Hard 2, there are other objectives to complete in each level. Each level presents you with two main options. You can either selectively kill the marked party guests (10 or so in each level) or you can decide to kill everyone. Choosing to just kill the selected targets actually adds quite a bit of stealth to the game as you have to find ways to get the targets alone. Killing all of the guests requires some creativity as you have to get rid of everyone without getting caught.

In addition to choosing your targets for the level, there are also secondary objects. These objectives aren’t required to beat a level but they add an additional challenge. Most of these secondary objectives require acquiring specific objects, dispatching with people in specific ways, or reaching blocked off areas. Outside of giving yourself more of a challenge, these secondary objectives also feed into the reward system. In each level you complete you will receive points of four different kinds which relate to how you approached a level. When you acquire enough points of a given type, you unlock different characters and items. The reward system doesn’t add a lot to the game but it gives players a reason to replay levels in order to acquire points to unlock items.

The next addition Party Hard 2 brings to the original game is significantly larger levels. I would say a lot of the levels are two to three times larger than the levels in the original game. For the most part I think this is a great addition to the game. It gives you more people to kill while also giving you more areas to play with. This makes stealth a more variable strategy as it is easier to single out a person. With more space to play with, there is more flexibility as you have more traps to play with.

Party Hard 2 also adds one more mechanic to the gameplay. The new insta-kill mechanic allows you to charge up an attack that kills anyone within its radius. This ability has a recharge period so you can’t use it all the time. The insta-kill mechanic is mostly used to kill a large group of people without giving them the ability to escape. There are times this can be quite useful. You have to be careful when you use it though because if someone is outside the radius and they see you, they will notice and report you to the police. For this reason I was cautious when I used the insta-kill mechanic and only used it when I knew no one else was around.

The final major addition to Party Hard 2 comes from the presentation. Just like the original Party Hard, all of the characters in the game are still pixel art. I like this decision because I thought the pixel art really worked for the original game. It looks really nice and it allows for the killing to be more cartoony, which might not have worked with a more realistic art style. While the characters are still pixel art, everything else has been upgraded to 3D. This combination of 2D and 3D is really interesting and creates a really unique atmosphere. Like the original game the music is also quite good and the story has gotten an upgrade.

While I enjoyed my time with Party Hard 2, I have to admit that I also had some issues with the game.

I have never been a huge fan of games that hold your hand with drawn out tutorials. Once I know what I am doing I don’t need to be lead step by step through the game. The perfect tutorial basically gives you everything you need to play the game and then lets you explore a little on your own. Party Hard 2 doesn’t really even have a tutorial. In the first level or two there are designated sections around the level that teach you a few of the game’s mechanics. This doesn’t include all of the mechanics, and you could easily miss some of them if you don’t explore the whole level. Basically the game teaches you the very basics but forces you to learn the rest on your own. As I played the original game I grasped the new mechanics pretty quickly. I am curious how someone who never played the original game would handle it though. Party Hard 2 didn’t need a highly detailed tutorial but I think it could have used the first level as a sort of training level where it would force you to use most of the game’s mechanics. This would have familiarized you with the mechanics so you wouldn’t have to learn them through trial and error.

The second issue I had with Party Hard 2 is that the game can have some pretty wild swings in difficulty. One level could be quite easy where you can beat it in one or two attempts. The next level you might have to play 10+times. This can become a little frustrating as I wish the game was a little more balanced. I wish the easier levels were a little more challenging and the hard levels were a little easier. I think the thing that is responsible for most of the difficulty is the addition of “guards”. Basically the guards are always on the lookout for you and if they spot you they will quickly start chasing after you. If they catch you it is basically game over.

In theory I liked the idea behind the guards. It was kind of silly in the original game that no one was on the lookout for you. As long as you weren’t careless and killed someone in front of another person, you were safe to walk around the party even after many people were killed. This makes the game a little more realistic and adds some challenge to the game. It forces you to be creative in how you deal with the guards though. The problem with the guards is that at times it feels like they are invincible. You basically have two options to deal with them. You can sneak around them or you can catch them by surprise and kill them before they notice you. If you are ever spotted by one of them, you have next to no chance of surviving. Once you have triggered them they basically become a “Terminator” (quite fitting as the Terminator occasionally shows up) solely focused on killing you. As you can’t outrun them, you basically have two options to defeat them once they have locked onto you. You can get lucky and successfully use one of our objects while running away from them. Otherwise you need to get lucky and have a trap that you can use. If neither work you are going to die. I think the guards should stay in the game, but I think they should have been slightly tweaked so it would actually be possible to get away from them once you trigger them.

Like the original Party Hard, Party Hard 2 also has a little issue with the game getting a little repetitive after a while. Basically all of the game’s mechanics are introduced in the first level. Thus you will mostly be doing the same thing in each level outside of completing the side missions. While you could be creative in how you dispose of the party guests, after a while it starts feeling like you are just doing the same things over and over again. I had fun with the game, but it is one of those games that I would probably only play for an hour or so at a time. Otherwise it starts to get a little repetitive. If you break up the game into shorter sessions though, this issue is not that big of a problem.

At this point I have not yet finished Party Hard 2 so I am unable to give an exact length for the game. Party Hard 2 has a total of 14 levels which is technically less than the original Party Hard (19 levels). As I mentioned earlier though the levels are considerably larger and have quite a bit more to do in them. Unless you can somehow rush through the levels without getting caught, most of the levels will take at least 15-20 minutes to complete. If you are trying to get rid of all of the guests, levels could easily take 30 minutes. The odds of you completing most of the levels on your first attempt is unlikely so you will likely be spending more time on most levels. The levels do have some randomization and if you want to complete all of the side quests, you can get a decent amount of replay value out of the game. Unless you really rush through the game, I would guess that you should get around 10 hours out of the game. If you replay some of the levels to try and unlock all of the items, I could see the game taking quite a bit more time.

Party Hard 2 is basically what you want out of a sequel. The game takes what worked in the original game, polishes up some things and adds some additional mechanics that bring some more variety to the game. The main gameplay is the same as the original game which kind of plays like a strategy game mixed with a stealth game. Party Hard 2 improves on the original game in a couple ways though. The addition of items really improves the game as it allows you to craft unique weapons, and gives you more variety in how you can kill the party guests. In addition the levels are considerably larger and give you secondary objectives which add quite a bit of variety to the game. The game also got a graphical update mixing the pixel art characters from the original game with 3D environments, which creates a really interesting style for the game. Party Hard 2 is better than the original game in almost every way. It does have a few issues though. The game could have done a better job explaining all of the mechanics and the difficulty can vary quite a bit from being too easy to being too hard. At times the game also gets a little repetitive so it is probably better playing the game in shorter doses.

If you already played the original game, the decision of whether to pick up Party Hard 2 is pretty simple. If you didn’t really care for the original game, I don’t see the sequel changing your mind. If you like the original game and are looking for more, I think you will enjoy Party Hard 2 a lot. If you have never played the original game, the decision comes down to whether you like the concept of playing as a serial killer in a strategy stealth game. If the game sounds interesting to you, I think you will enjoy Party Hard 2. I know I enjoyed my time with Party Hard 2 as it improves upon the original game in almost every way.

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